CALIFORNIA—The San Francisco based e-cigarette company Juul is facing scrutiny as a new report by KTSP-TV alleges the company is recruiting public health researchers for Juul-funded research, a practice the company vowed to stop.
The July 6 report alleges that Juul is attempting to recruit public health researchers, including one from the University of Minnesota, to conduct studies funded by Juul.
The allegations contradict a statement from the company that reads, “[Juul] no longer solicits IIR applications in the U.S. and they are limited to providing JUUL products to scientific researchers who wish to study them.”
The report details how Michael Parks, a University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics’ researcher, presented a study on youth and smoking in San Francisco, and he later received an email from Juul’s director of medicinal affairs.
According to the report, the email discussed “potential research opportunities” for Juul, soon after Parks scheduled a phone call with the company. Parks says, “They said ‘We’re interested in funding investigator-initiated research…’ And often, that comes with the connotation that it’s unbiased… I did question, what did that mean to them?”
Parks told KTSP-TV he eventually declined the research opportunity, after learning there would be stipulations for his research with Juul. “As I interpreted what they were saying, (the research) did have to involve Juul in some form or fashion,” said Parks.
Juul has been critiqued and sued by states for its alleged advertising of nicotine products to the youth. Some are comparing the company’s recruitment of researchers to Big Tobacco’s tactics in the 50s and 60s.
A current lawsuit by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison alleges the company’s marketing strategies are similar to the “playbook used by traditional cigarette makers 50 years earlier.”
Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey indicated in the report in regard to Juul’s use of Big Tobacco tactics, “The reality is that it’s pretty much the same tactics… And the recruitment of professionals? That’s also what was happening.”